IT’S BEEN SUCH A MEMORABLE SUMMER!
Now it’s over I can look back on the many highlights of the season so far
WINTER is coming! How do I know? Because I am wearing my hoodie, my bottle of squash has been replaced by a flask of coffee and the heater is on in the car!
It’s been a truly memorable summer. I have caught 2lb roach and 5lb chub from rivers and stillwaters, double-figure barbel and a belting eel of 6lb-plus that won me a Drennan weekly award. A 6lb eel is the fish of a lifetime!
My guiding days have been incredible, with eight doublefigure barbel, nine 5lb-plus chub and two over 6lb, all from the Middle Severn. Most of these fish are personal bests for the anglers concerned, which makes it even more satisfying.
And what about the wildlife? I have seen a mink hunting a squirrel, water rails, peregrines, merlins, two kingfishers at a time, a pair of Dartford warblers and lots more, but the highlight of the summer by far was seeing a fully grown cormorant flying down the river with a huge female goshawk in hot pursuit, its beak inches from the cormorant’s tail.
I will never see that again – it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments which I feel humbled to have witnessed.
So how did this week go?
A talk at Warwick for the Shakespeare region of the Pike Anglers Club. It was well attended and I have to say I was on top form – hopefully the lads enjoyed it as much as I did. I talked about all predators, from perch to great whites, as well as pike of course! A great night, and thank you all for treating me so well. I am glad the PAC is still alive and kicking. A few years ago it hit troubled waters, but that’s all water under the bridge and that’s good news for pike fishing. As an all-rounder it’s a great honour to be asked by so many specialist groups to talk to them. It can be nerve-racking, though, even when you have been at it for as many years as I have.
Floatfishing on the River Stour near Kidderminster, and I enjoyed it immensely. This little river has been full of fish for a few years now, which is a miracle in itself – just 40 years ago it was an open sewer with very little fish life.
Now all the river species except grayling are in there and doing really well. I caught dace, chub and brown trout, nothing over 8oz but I wanted to blow the cobwebs away in readiness for a few trips I have on the River Test next month, and I am glad I did!
In the first hour I was very rusty and my float control was well short of the mark, with a lot of missed bites.
Soon enough, though, I was into the swing of it and it’ll take me only another couple of sessions before I will be ready for the monsters of the Test.
Took two great guys guiding for barbel on the Severn – seasoned all-rounder John Chester and Ray Brown who, along with Tony Miles, was the founder of the famous Coventry Specimen Group and later the Coventry Circus.
John had caught barbel years ago but had forgotten how hard they pulled, and Ray had never had one in his life. They both caught barbel, and the smile on Ray’s face when he landed his first was
a picture. It was only a small fish – Ray in his Coventry Circus days had probably used bigger livebaits – but it mattered not, and we were all chuffed for him.
On that evening, feeling totally shattered (I am 65 you know), I travelled down to Worcester for an after-dinner speech for the Barbel Society lads. Thankfully tackle dealer Adam Sheriff gave me a lift down there in his truck.
Again the guys were so kind and it ended up a great night, with the society making a few bob towards the barbel research project on the River Teme. Glad I could be of help, and thanks again for the gallon of ‘black stuff’!
Another ‘barbel virgin’ in the shape of Richard Hill. I took him to the Rowley waters on the Severn at Coalport and again they produced the goods with a couple of fish to 9lb 6oz. It was slow fishing after a cold morning. The mist didn’t clear until midday but Richard was over the moon with his big barbel. Let’s not get carried away with those pictures of 18-pounders. They are not the norm for the average guy, for whom a 9lb barbel is a giant!
Travelled to Cannock for the Nash trade show. I was well impressed! Kevin Nash is a crafty old chief but he has surrounded himself with a team of warriors second to none. I can’t wait to use this gear in the coming months. It’s nice that not every company is going down the ‘cheap and cheerful’ route!
A 9lb 6oz barbel for Richard Hill, another happy angler from my guiding trips. It was great to bank a 6lb-plus eel, the second of my career.
Legendary specimen hunter Ray Brown with his first-ever barbel. Small, but who cares? “My belting eel of 6lb-plus won me a Drennan weekly award”